Are you willing to be uncomfortable?
Happy Wednesday! I woke up this morning so excited to get out of bed.
Unfortunately, not because I was incredibly inspired, but rather because I was having an argument with a friend in my dream. So when the alarm went off I was happy to wake up.
If only all conflict could be resolved so easily. But the reality is that unraveling disagreements takes time, effort, grace, and huge dose of willingness to be uncomfortable. That’s probably why so many people avoid confrontation by all measures possible, even when it means settling. Settling for relationships with unrest below the surface, settling for work situations that corrode happiness, settling for not having our voice heard, even when we know we should speak up.
But, what if we didn’t settle? What if you and I, right now, agreed to never settle again.
I’m willing to be uncomfortable, because I refuse to settle. – Tweet it
Not settling for less than a spectacularly clear life means that we’re going to have to learn how to be champions of dispute resolution and kings and queens of elegant confrontation.
If you’re anything like me, you didn’t learn this from your parents. My parents never argued in front of me, in fact, they were kind of experts at the silent treatment. So I got the message that if you didn’t like the way someone else was acting, best to shut them out. Now, I’m sure they talked/yelled at each other when the kids weren’t around – but I didn’t see it.
My school wasn’t a training ground for conflict resolution either. There were two options: suck it up or be a tattle-tail. I generally went with the suck it up and move on method of coping, and slowly I adopted the underlying belief that girlfriends are going to hurt me. It took a long time to work that out and have meaningful relationships with women built on trust and love.
So, without the greatest mentors for how to work things out and speak up, we have to take it into our own hands as adults and cultivate this skill.
Here are five things I’ve learned that have helped me:
1) When I’m feeling hurt or triggered I become a ball of raw emotions. If this happens to you too, then I suggest taking time to soothe your sensations. Don’t enter into a potentially agitating conversation from a place of extreme tension: wait, cool off, and then come to the table clear headed.
2) Be willing to be uncomfortable. Honestly, no emotionally healthy human loves conflict. It’s hard, it’s emotional, and our deepest desires to have others approval are endangered by the very idea of it. But, be brave, there’s a lot more freedom on the other side.
3) Be clear about the results you want. When you enter into a confrontation it’s easy to lose sight of the goal because we get hurt or angry, but if you keep coming back to the result you’re going for – you can stay on the path to get it. Don’t get side tracked, and even express to the other person what you’re hoping will come of the conversation so they know what your purpose is for the communication.
4) Keep to facts. You can always express how you feel about something, but avoid statements like, “you made me…” or “you don’t…” because the truth is you don’t know what was happening for the other person. Telling them how they felt or what they were experiencing can often create defensiveness and make it hard to resolve the situation.
5) Stay with the issue at hand. When there is someone in our life that we have a lot of history with, it’s easy to get off track and bring up hurt from months or years ago to make our case. But, remember what you’re going for here: resolution, not damnation. Avoid “always” and “never” statements.
If the issue is truly something that has happened again and again, I suggest saying something like, “when this xxx happens, I feel xxx. I didn’t bring it up when it happened before, but now there seems to be a pattern of this behavior and I’d like to talk about it.”
Of course, it’s always best to resolve issues immediately so that we don’t need to bring them up months or years later because we’ve already had the necessary conversations.
Having these communications creates so much clarity in relationships. It’s never easy. But it’s always worth it.